Reflections on 2018

Happy New Year (2)

Happy New Year’s Eve!

As we enter the new year, my annual tradition is to take time to reflect on the past year. It helps me to remember what I learned, step back and take a deeper look, and embrace the coming new year. Here are my reflections from 2017.

1. What was the best thing that happened this year?

A lot of good things happened this year, so I’m cheating and listing several highlights.

  • I started a women’s discipleship group with some really amazing, world-changing people.
  • Steve and I connected with the Underground Network, an incredible wealth of ministry mentors and friends.
  • All three of our kids transitioned into new schools, and thrived.
  • Steve made a leap into a new career as a mortgage loan officer, and it’s been such a good fit.

2. What was the most challenging thing that happened?

I had several challenging situations that forced me to consider, “What’s my role in this? And what is not mine?” In other words, how do I respond with love and compassion, as well as wisdom? And how do I determine my place between what IS and IS NOT my responsibility to handle? I turned these questions over and over in my heart for a good part of this year.

3. What was an unexpected joy?

There were a few hours each week when all our kids were in school, and I had time to myself. The joy and freedom! I really loved having quiet and solitude in these moments.

4. What was an unexpected obstacle?

Feeling tired. Despite trying to maintain healthy habits – enough sleep, healthy food and vitamins, regular exercise – there have been days when I wake up, and just do not feel rested.

5. Pick three words to describe 2018.

Try. Nurture. Adventure.

6. What were the best books you read this year?

Another Place at the Table – The personal and startlingly honest account of a woman’s thirteen-year experience as a foster parent.

The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth – Of the many Enneagram books I’ve read, this is the one I keep coming back to and recommending to others. It is rich with wisdom about the Enneagram, and serves as a guide for those seeking a practical way to God and deep transformation.

Columbine – An in-depth account of the tragic mass shooting that has reverberated for decades, and how much of what we “know” is wrong. The book is by Dave Cullen, one of the first reporters on the scene, and this makes his corrections and critiques on media coverage all the most insightful.

7. What did you do in 2018 that you’ve never done before?

I found a new hobby – boxing. I needed a way to exercise, release stress, and work out my anger. So I hung a punching bag in our garage, and that’s my cardio.

8. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

For 2018, here were my goals and the results:

  • Exercise 3-4 times a week. I did an okay job with this. Tracking this in my Bullet Journal was helpful.
  • Meet with a spiritual director monthly. Nope, did not do this.
  • Invest in a few primary peer friendships. Yes, I did this. Success.
  • Do the Life Reflection once a week. I probably did this every month or so.

As far as keeping my 2018 resolutions, I give myself a C+/B-.

For 2019, here are my resolutions:

  • Spend time and energy on meaningful things.
  • Make disciples who make disciples.
  • Help my kids love God and love people.
  • Do things with faith and love.
  • Ask for help.

9. For what are you most grateful?

Our extended family (both Steve’s side and mine). Mentors who have given me guidance and wisdom. Our Bluewater faith community that keeps me growing and trying.

10. How did you change this year?

I take things less seriously, and have a bit more humor. That’s a good thing for me.

11. What moments were most memorable?

The false ballistic missile threat alert that freaked out everyone in Hawaii, and prompted me to create an emergency kit. A generous friend gifting us with a staycation in Waikiki. Camping out at Aloha Stadium to get Bruno Mars tickets. The passing of my friend and mentor, Jen.

12. What were your greatest discoveries?

  • Spotify
  • Habit tracking with a Bullet Journal
  • Dry shampoo
  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before on Netflix

13. What are you looking forward to this coming year?

I am looking forward to new adventures.

14. What was the most significant thing you learned this year?

It is a worthy endeavor to seek and find what is eternal.

Happy 6th Birthday, Alex

I write letters to my children on their birthdays. Here is last year’s letter to Alex.

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Dear Alex,

Happy birthday!

There is so much to celebrate about you.

You are resilient, spunky, and fun. You are creative, and love to make beautiful art for other people. You are engaged with the world around you. You love connecting with people and being helpful to others. Sometimes we get glimpses of an older version of you – like when you are so quick to help your little sister when she’s mid-meltdown.

This year you graduated from preschool. Yay! Then you jumped into kindergarten with excitement. Every day you enjoy telling us about what you did at school and who you played with at recess.

You are learning how to read and write, and are so self-motivated that we’ve barely done anything other than provide you with lots of books and paper. Car rides with you are fun because you are constantly finding signs to read out loud.

Other new things from this year – you got your ears pierced, you started really swimming, you learned how to shower all by yourself, you figured out how to ride a bike without training wheels, and you started playing soccer.

You love getting your fingernails painted, watching PJ Masks, going on family camping trips, listening to the Greatest Showman soundtrack, getting Happy Meals at McDonald’s, going on special Daddy-Daughter dates with Dad, playing with water outside, telling knock knock jokes, and hanging out at Wet N Wild.

Alex, you are a pure joy to have as my daughter. I hope this year is full of fun and growth for you. I love you a lot.

Love, Mom

Happy 9th Birthday, Aaron

I write letters to my children on their birthdays. Here is last year’s letter to Aaron.

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Happy 9th birthday, Aaron!

Um, hold on…you’re halfway to 18. I need to pause and take a breath, because that fact is blowing my mind. It wasn’t very long ago when you were born and made me a mommy. And now you’re halfway to 18.

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You wanted to celebrate your birthday with pizza, mint ice cream, and a trip to the beach. So that’s what we did.

This year you conquered the 3rd grade. You really love math, to the point of asking us if you can learn more advanced algebra. That love and skill with math comes solely from your dad, by the way. You’re transitioning to a different school next year, and though that means starting over in a new learning environment, you seem up for the challenge.

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Your favorite things to do include playing soccer, running in the waves at the beach, reading Minecraft books, folding origami, and watching Survivor. For a long time you didn’t seem interested in learning how to ride a bike. Then one day this year, you suddenly got motivated, and just started zooming down the street with no help at all. Another new thing this year was getting a family dog. Every day you wake up and feed the dog, and each night you give him a big hug before going to bed.

You make me laugh all the time with your clever insights and wordplay. Here’s my favorite joke of yours:

Q: What’s the difference between a coyote and a flea?
A: One howls on the prairie. The other prowls on the hairy.

You are becoming resourceful and independent. You can now do your own laundry (hooray!), make your own eggs for breakfast, and once made dessert for our family.

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There are so many reasons to celebrate you, Aaron. You are kind and curious. You are content and go with the flow. You’re patient and gracious with me as I learn this whole parenting thing. You are a joy to have as a son.

I love you and am grateful for you.

Love, Mom